|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Sunday, August 29, 1999
diplomacy and the Vajpayee government
Council: Ministers motion
S. JAIPAL REDDYs identity over the years has been established as the spokesman of the Janata Dal, the United Front and the Third Front and he excelled in the task.
For almost a decade he handled the most tricky press briefings, replied to many foxy questions by scribes but rarely got foxed and tactfully ducked inconvenient ones. Never was he offensive but always objective, never tried to mislead the press.
For years he dominated the T.V. channels apprising the press of the acrimonious deliberations at various forums of the UF. In the process he invented some of striking phrases; his critics called him phrase monger.
Jaipal Reddy was rated as the best spokesman of a political party in the nineties followed by two others, Vithal Gadgil of the Congress and Yashwant Sinha (now the Finance Minister) of the BJP. In the last year of the millennium, UF and Janata Dal ceased to exit and the two major political parties have now the worst-ever spokespersons.
Will Sonia Gandhi consider appointing Jaipal Reddy as the spokesman now that he has rejoined the Congress?. Her party faced many disasters in last six months and the daily briefing at the AICC has been one of them.
As a special gesture Sonia Gandhi gave him the ticket to contest from the Miryaguda constituency of Andhra Pradesh, a constituency of Reddys preference. He had defeated the formidable Congress MP, Mallikarjun, from Mehboobnagar in 1998. The Congress President, apparently, has big plans for Reddy; may be he would become the official spokesman of the party after the election or be given an important position in the organisation.
It must have been an agonising experience for Jaipal to return to the parent organisation after having been a bitter critic of the post-emergency Congress and Indira Gandhi and remaining so in the following years. Though he snapped ties, like many others, with the Congress as a protest against the Emergency, at heart he always remained a Congressman a firm believer in Nehruism and a true secularist. Jaipal cannot be put in the category of election eve aaya Ram, gaya Ram. He rejoined the Congress because of ideological considerations, he claims.
As he himself explains; I left the Congress in protest against the temporary aberration of the Emergency; I have rejoined the Congress because I regard theocratic fascism (represented by the Sangh Parivar) as a very much long-term aberration and there is a remote chance of revival of the third front in the foreseeable future.
There was no option left for him. Janata Dals ideology, according to him, was perfect but one split after another right from 1990 marked by personality clashes and vaulting personal ambitions of leaders made the organisation crumble under its own weight. Then the phrase monger in him awakens and he comes out with a quotable quote: I stood like the Casablanca boy on the burning deck until the deck itself collapsed.
Jaipal Reddy was the only exception whom the BJP did not approach, knowing well his strong ideological views but the Telugu Desam leaders did contact him a number of times with several offers and that included either contesting a Lok Sabha seat or go to the Rajya Sabha. He might have preferred Chandrababu Naidus party but the TDPs truck with the BJP forced him to spurn its overtures; he rejected both the offers. In the 1996 elections, Jaipal wanted the Janata Dal to join hands with Naidu but his partys official line was to go along with Lakshmi Parvathi. Having been over-ruled by the Dal leadership, he opted out of the electoral fray.
The veteran spokesman knows that he would be target of attack for joining the Congress a party he lambasted over the years but he says he has staked his reputation at the altar of ideology. One wonders if Jaipal would fit in the present Congress culture? Ideological commitment has been the biggest casualty in the 119-year old organisation and idealism had been substituted by opportunism long ago. Self-respecting as he is, Jaipal declined to be presented at the press briefings at the AICC headquarters as a prize catch. A leader who has been in the limelight for years scrupulously avoided the glare of TV cameras while many, who had joined the Congress in last few weeks, vied with each other to be in the limelight.
Jaipal Reddys tenure in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was too short but, perhaps for the first time, he tried to resurrect the two powerful medium All India Radio and Doordarshan from the stranglehold of officialdom. His attempt to grant complete autonomy to the two powerful media and professionalise them to ensure objectivity ended with the change of government AIR and Doordarshan have again become, by and large, instruments of the ruling dispensations propaganda.
Jaipal as parliamentarian is another facet of the 57-year old personality. He has the experience of Andhra Pradesh assembly (from 1969 to 1984) as well as both houses of Parliament. He was leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 1991 to 1992. There is no doubt that he has made a mark in Parliament and it is generally believed that when Jaipal raise an issue, alarm bells start ringing in treasury benches. He does his homework well.
Jaipal started his
political career in the Congress and headed the Youth
Congress unit of Andhra Pradesh in the late sixties. He
became Andhra PCC General Secretary in 1969 and held the
office for three years. He is now back in the parent
organisation but it is not the same Congress he had known
24 years back.
SOMETHING must be seriously wrong with the timing of the bus diplomacy launched by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government.
After the manner in which the bus to Lahore ended at Kargil, it seems the service to Dhaka launched with equal fanfare could go the similar way.
Last week the Border Security Force and Bangladesh Rifles were engaged in firing in Tripura with each side blaming the other for opening unprovoked fire. The exchanges continued for three days.
The matter was sorted out with South Block summoning the Acting Bangladesh High Commissioner, Mr Alimul Haque, and demanding that Dhaka take steps to defuse the tension.
The diplomatic ties between Delhi and Dhaka were strained after the Assam Chief Minister, Mr Prafulla Mahanta, stated during his Independence Day speech that Indian security forces had seized huge quantities of RDX from ISI agents holed up in Rajshahi. A few days later, Dhaka claimed that 300 kg of Indian sulphur, an ingredient used in bombs, was seized in Benapole.
Dhaka officials felt that the BJP-led government was making internal security a poll-plank and were zeroing in on ISI agents in Bangladesh, on the eastern side.
Nari Shakti in Bellary
The Congress has decided to counter BJPs Sushma Swaraj who has been camping in Bellary by sending two of Mrs Sonia Gandhis trusted lieutenants Mrs Ambika Soni and Ms Selja.
After a brief visit to file her nomination papers, the Congress President addressed a few rallies in the constituency which goes to the polls on September 5.
The party despatched its Secretary, Ms Selja, who withdrew from the contest in Sirsa and asked her to coordinate with the AICC General Secretary, Mrs Ambika Soni, joining her the coming week in the run-up to the elections.
Obviously the Congress thought it best to counter Ms Swaraj by sending in leader of former Chief of Mahila Congress Mrs Soni and Ms Selja it will be the best possible example of Nari Shakti.
The politicians in New Delhi can be trusted to take advantage of any event religious, social or even cultural for seeking political gains out of it.
This year on Raksha Bandhan having falled in the run-up to elections even this festival of brother-sister affection was sought to be politicised.
A la Diwali Mubarak or Holi Mubarak telephones started buzzing in senior politicians and journalists homes conveying Mubarak for Raksha Bandhan and seeking protection for the ensuing year. Apse agle saal ki Raksha ka vachan ka aashirwad mangta hoon (I seek your blessings for (my) protection for the year to come).
With Janamashtmi falling next week, days before the country goes to the first phase of polling on September 5, one wonders what will be the politicians of Delhi up to.
So far, the Roza Iftaar function was sought to be used by politicians elections or no elections, nothwithstanding.
Politicians who do not organise Holi Milans or reception for Diwali, vie with each other to host Iftaar parties in order to show off their support among the minorities. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party with its Hindutva placard has not been bereft of it.
Preparing for bigger things
Now that the country is in election mode, every politician is charting the future course most for themselves while a few for their parties.
With the elections spread over nearly a month, senior leaders of various political parties will be criss-crossing the length and breadth of the country carrying forward their message to the people.
What do these leaders do for most of them have to travel several hundred kilometres a day to address election rallies which only adds to the fatigue.
Recently the Home Minister and BJP leader, Mr L. K. Advani, confided that during travel he tries to catch up on reading and these days it was a management book by an American author entitled: Dont sweat the small stuff. Now that is called preparing for bigger things.
Do sitare in SP election cassette
Do sitaron ka zamin per hain milan ab ki bar: Aage hain Mulayam Singh, pichhe bhai Amar ab ki bar!
These two lines in the election campaign cassette of the Samajwadi Party has come as a major surprise to the party leaders who have been working with Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav for years.
They point out that ever since 1988, the election campaign cassette has only mentioned the name of the party chief and no other party leader, howsoever strong or popular he may be, was allowed to be named in the cassette. Even a mention of another leader would have Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav angry and the presenters faced major problems after that.
But on this occasion, not only has the style of presentation been changed to pop music from the traditional qawwali, but for the first time, the name of party spokesman, Mr Amar Singh, has been mentioned along side that of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Incidentally the cassette has been recorded at the behest of Mr Amar Singh and as the grapevine has it, at the studios of a major finance company known to be extremely close to the Samajwadi Party leader.
It is not only Kargil but also the World Cup cricket tournament that is having its echo in the election campaigning. A cricket buff, the star campaigner of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr L.K.Advani, these days is using cricket to pep up his campaigning.
The Union Home Minister compares the vote of confidence, which the Vajpayee Government lost by a single vote, with that of an India-Pakistan cricket match where India with one wicket in hand needed just one run to win. Alas, the last player was bowled LBW and that too to a no ball, which the umpire refused to acknowledge.
Mr Advanis reference is to the vote cast by the Orissa Chief Minister, Mr Giridhar Gamang, who despite going to the state used his Lok Sabha membership to vote. The umpire, the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr G.M.C.Balayogi, refused to uphold the objection.
Cricket does not end here. Other party leaders too talk about Sachin Tendulkar, who overcame personal grief to score a century against Zimbabwe and looked towards heaven as if paying tributes to his father. The score on the scoreboard at that time was 372 and this is the number which the BJP says it will score in the coming elections.
Congress gesture to BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party leaders never miss an opportunity to lambast the Opposition Congress. But, there is one deed by the Congress that has come for praise from the BJP leadership. Party leaders say but for the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhis, decision to contest from Bellary in Karnataka, Mrs Sushma Swaraj would not have agreed to jump into the electoral fray once again.
A prominent spokesperson of the BJP, Mrs Swaraj had decided not to contest the elections this time for personal reasons and this had put a question mark on BJPs credentials as a pro-woman party. But with Mrs Swaraj back in the fray, thanks to the Congress, the BJP has more credibility when it talks of 33 per cent reservation for women.
MADRAS, August 28 The discussion was resumed today in the Madras Legislative Council on the Chief Ministers motion for appointment of Council Secretaries on a salary of Rs 500 each per mensem. An amendment was proposed by Swami Venkatachalam Chetty fixing their salaries at rupee one.
The supporters of the amendment contended that there was no necessity for the appointment of these Secretaries, and if Ministers wanted the help of such secretaries they should be paid from the salaries of the Minister.
The Chief Minister maintained that the Council Secretaries were indispensable. The amendment was defeated and the Ministers motion was carried.
There was some
opposition again when the Chief Minister introduced the
Madras Local Authorities Entertainment Tax Bill. The
object of this Bill is to enable certain local bodies to
find additional source of revenue by taxing amusement and
entertainment just like the Bengal Act.
| Punjab | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir |
| Chandigarh | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |